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Hi Margaret,

I also believe this will be one of the great challenges of our time. It is a very complex issue. Society has gone through major changes in how we work but the difference now is the speed of change. It is basic economics that at some point the cost benefit between employing people for some current jobs will change. The rapid advance of technology, acceptance, and falling prices for it will drive a change. This is meeting up with the debate on the growing wage disparity. We now live in a global workforce that is putting downward pressure on wages on the low end as it puts upward pressure on wages on the high end. Just look at all the freelance listing websites that make it easy to compare a graphic designer in the U.S. looking for $40/hr vs. a graphic designer in India looking for $8/hr to do the same work. When will autonomous cars have the ability to replace taxi and Uber drivers (why did Google invest)?

In Seattle we already passed a min wage hike to $15/hr. When will the economics drive more automation? It may take more national pay hike movement to really drive it.

In my opinion, the real focus needs to be on what the new social contract will be and how to retain the effected workforce for the next economy jobs.

Now all we need are robots that will deliver the food to your table. Sad fact that waits-people (?) will lose their jobs eventually.
And if you check, you'll find these are the jobs that kids with college degrees are taking because they can't find work as a professional.

Jacque, job extinction is not new. We just need to adapt and identify what's next. Maybe it will force more unexpected innovative jobs. Have you seen people who are making money creating "unpacking" videos? What are the other "jobs" that exist now that did not 5-10 years ago?

Trevor, I agree that economics is not the only driver for the digital solutions are finding their way into our work lives. And I don't think that the lower-skilled jobs will be the only ones affected. But the new jobs that are spawned are not typically for the lower skilled.

If I could make a wish as the world keeps turning, it would be that US companies think longer and with a more strategic bent about outsourcing jobs overseas and limiting merit budgets -- at the same time that the executives are worrying about the future for their kids. It doesn't seem to make sense, even in terms of long term economics for US companies. And if it does, I don't see anyone articulating the case for anything but immediate savings.

Charles Murray was (unjustly, in my view) vilified over a single chapter in "The Bell Curve" about 20 years ago.

His larger point - that we have to figure out what to do with the inhabitants of the left hand side of the intelligence curve - has yet to be addressed by ANY of the inhabitants of the present-day political spectrum.

This is a problem that is not going to auto-correct or go away. Indeed, to the extent that "intelligence" (define it as you wish) is hereditable via genes and/or environment, it's only going to get worse.

If I may interject something. Globalization is "raising all boats" but mainly those in emerging countries.

U.S. companies aren't as interested in labor cost overseas as they are with huge customer demand --- demand that is minimal in developed countries -- i.e. Europe, Japan and the U.S. And there are increasingly huge numbers of customers in emerging markets overseas and will continue to be for years.

No one talks about the gap in the percentage of employees companies have in the U.S. versus overseas. The gap is widening and it is not because of manufacturing.

Companies are hiring professional people overseas because they need people close to their customers --- sales, marketing, design engineering, tech support ---- and these jobs cannot be done from the U.S. I have had an opportunity to work with companies that have multiple design engineering centers overseas just to be close to customers that require their products be modified in some way.

It's not "outsourcing" that's the problem. The people increasingly hired overseas in professional jobs don't cause people in the U.S. to lose jobs. These are new jobs created because of a need in another country. If you care to read about it here is a link:

The U.S. doesn't need millions of high level jobs --- in fact you need much fewer high level jobs than you need mid and lower level jobs. You need millions of people here as consumers. Consumers run our economy. And if there are no jobs you have no consumers. And if you have no consumers you don't need millions of people in STEM jobs creating things that no one can buy.

The continued encouragement of kids to go to college is tragic. There aren't jobs for them. Yet Kelly Services/Manpower have said for the past few years that companies are begging for skilled craftsmen. But all we hear about is STEM.

Economists say that this "new normal" and and the increasing use of technology will not lead to new, never imagined jobs as in the past. The jobs that automation replaced then were routine, repetitive jobs i.e. manufacturing. The technology we have today is replacing work that requires cognitive ability.

Read Jeremy Rifkin's "The End of Work". Yes it was written 20 years ago but it is scary how what he predicted is what we are experiencing now. Read Mohammed El-Erian's When Markets Collide. Read Michael Spence's The Next Convergence.

We do live in interesting times. Excuse me for the tangent but I have researched this extensively and it is a passion of mine.

If I was able to choose at a fast food restaurant between punching in my order on a tablet or trying to communicate my order to a human that absolutely does not care one whit about service (and why should they given their wages and working conditions but that is a separate topic) I'd choose tablet any day. There is a mid casual restaurant here in town where you order right off the tablet wait staff only bring you the dishes and bus the tables. My kids are used to this (this also happens to be their favorite restaurant of course) and would accept this as normal behavior. Low end repetitive tasks will soon be handled by computers for the most part. Remember bank tellers...yeah me neither.

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